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Behind the Scenes ~ Preschool Workboxes

Behind the Scenes Awhile back I wrote a Behind the Scenes post about beginning to transition Krash from Tot School to Preschool.  We are almost entirely done with that transition and I wanted to update you in case our journey might help anyone!  As I always say-our way isn’t necessarily the right way, it’s just a way that has worked for us.  Every child is different and what works for Krash and our homeschool may not work for yours.

At the writing of this post Krash is 46 months old, we began the transition I am writing about now about 6 weeks ago.

I slowly transitioned Krash from Tot Trays on a shelf like this…IMG_1861 copy

to workboxes like this…  IMG_0593I got this awesome set up from Ikea.  I have known I wanted this for years now, but just couldn’t bring myself to spend the money.  Finally my husband encouraged me to just get what I really wanted and honestly I am SO happy I did!  This is the set we have.

 

We did the transition slowly.  At first I just switched his normal things that would have been on his trays over to the workboxes, and just let him open them all up and pick what he wanted-the same freedom of choice he had with his tray set up.

Slowly I added in more preschool type work and eventually I added the numbers to his boxes.  I set up the 9 boxes with 6 being his workboxes and the 3 on the bottom being his “star” boxes.  These are the boxes filled with open ended toys that he can freely play with after boxes 1-6 are finished each day.  Here’s a photo I took and labeled to show you how it is working now.IMG_1867 You can see he was almost done for the day when I snapped this, as box 1-5 are done and the # cards are off and his finished work is on the tray.  Some days I don’t have all 6 boxes filled and if I don’t I just don’t put the numbers on him.  It only took him a few days to understand that.  Now he can look and see that he only has 4 boxes on a certain day, and then he is free to play in star boxes.

A few random thoughts about how we do things…

  • He does go in order, beginning with box 1 each day.
  • I do work with him the entire time, he is not independent yet!
  • Each box usually is something that doesn’t take a really long time.  I break things down into small chunks for him, we will gradually increase his attention span.
  • He only took a few days of training to get past the “WHAT??? I can’t just do what I WANT for school anymore???”  phase ;-).  Once I decided we were switching to “Mommy chooses first, then you {star boxes},”  I knew I had to make it stick.  I disciplined and made him obey even if he didn’t like me too much.  Within a few days of fighting me, the battle was won.  He now goes in order with very little complaining.  He is a strong willed little man too, so don’t think it was easy-I just had to be firm and let him know I was most certainly the boss-even of school.

So, I know you are wondering 😉 what is in the different boxes?  Here’s an idea of the types of things I would put in each set…

In Workboxes 1-6…activities with a clear ending

  • Kumon Cutting Workbook
  • Theme printables  {from Tot Packs and other sites I use to get things from}
  • Puzzles
  • Learning toys that have a definite ending point {not open ended toys}
  • Coloring, cutting, drawing, or other art activities that have a “goal” {again, not open ended stuff}
  • ABC projects {currently we are doing Crafty ABCs from Totally Tots}

 

In STAR Boxes… open ended toys {these are just a few of our suggestions}

  • Zoobs
  • Tall Stacker Pegs Building Set
  • Beads
  • Small Wooden Blocks
  • Twister Rings
  • Automoblox
  • Magneatos
  • Egg/Spoon Race Game

Here’s our new Preschool Tools store I set up to help me keep all of our suggestions in one place.  We still use many of our Tot School Tools as you will see, I just wanted to have a new section as we enter into official preschool years!

We are just weeks away from officially beginning our new Raising Rock Stars Preschool program!   I can’t wait to share with all of you, I have been working like crazy behind the scenes to get it ready for Krash and to share with you!  Stay tuned!

Edited to ADD {2013} Preschool Work Trays with LadybugPreschool-Work-Trays.jpg

Workboxes..

Check out this AMAZING webpage filled with resources all about Workboxes!

We are still using them, but in a MUCH more modified form for the summer. Pac Man actually misses the structure some. I am being lazy to be honest. I may have to get my fanny in gear to give him the structure he is desiring, even for the summer.


Workboxes…some great links

I thought I would piggy-back off of yesterday’s post with a few more links to help those of you considering this method.

On Heather’s blog, she has written many posts (with great detail and photos) showing how the boxes have worked for her children. Scroll to the bottom when you get there and read up to see her posts progress.

Here is Ami’s specific post with her growing list of ideas for the boxes (outside of regular curriculum). I plan to make my own spreadsheet in the future, but my baby will have to come first and things will need to settle down! I am looking forward to the MANY ideas Pac can do each day. Here’s Ami’s schedule cards that she made, and included a link for you to download them too! Here are her timer cards, which we will be adding to our boxes too! Thanks Ami!!!

Here is Leslie’s photo and description of the shelf and boxes she bought at Target. here’s her post featuring the photos of the shelves all ready for her kiddos.

Here are some great posts from Jess, who has a larger family. Post 1 shows her initial set-up and how she made it work for a house with many kiddos. Next, she writes about what is in each child’s specific boxes for a day, with their ages listed and photos. Finally here’s some neat action shots of her kiddos at work.

Here is Ginger’s post about Workboxes, where she shows an entirely different way to organize, using drawers instead of boxes. Here’s another post she wrote about a few things that she really likes to sue within the Workbox system.

Here’s another great idea from Jolanthe at Our Homeschool Creations, showing how she is using the system for her 4 kiddos.

As for me–YES I will post PDFs of the graphics I am using for our system. I have to edit them a bit to make them public friendly,since I know you all don’t want a photo of me on your boxes! I will write a post with the link when I get that done.

Behind the Scenes ~ Workboxes in Our House

Behind the Scenes ~ Workboxes

It has been a week since we began using the Workboxes and I must be honest, this is probably the best thing we have added to our homeschooling life! I am still a bit skeptical to see if our joy will last, but so far, so GREAT!!! Here’s what I like about it…

Pac Man’s Homeschooling *Issues*
  • Whining over how much is left…”Mom, when will we be done, how much more?”
  • Whining over what the type of work is….”Mom, is there anything FUN on the schedule today?”
  • Working independently
  • Working at a reasonable pace-(he can get VERY distracted and slow )
  • Asking for help when he doesn’t really need it–I am just right there so he asks as a first resort, instead of really thinking.

How the Workboxes have helped…

    • He can clearly see how much work he has for the day-and WHAT it is.

  • He has a very clear schedule to follow each day, and he can see when things are coming up (like snack breaks). He has to follow the schedule in order each day, removing each card as the task is completed. I made a little basket for him to put them in. This is a bit different than the book recommends, but we make it work for our schoolroom. Here is his new work station, the basket on the left is for completed work, the blue basket is for completed schedule cards.
  • He can see if something FUN is coming up in a certain box that day, which motivates him to get through the boxes that come before it.
  • The boxes are clearly labeled if they are “Work with Mom” boxes, or independent boxes.

 

  • If it is an independent work box, he has 3 HELP cards per day he can turn in to get some help. This causes him to have to not use Mom-Help as a first resort, but more as a tool if it’s really needed.
  • He is working MUCH faster, and doing MUCH more-this is the most amazing part to me, he is so much more self-motivated.

 

A few comments he has made that let me know it’s working…

  • To a friend of mine who leads a program he is in at church, “Trish, we started these new boxes for school and I am not even doing Calvert anymore, they are SO fun!” Obviously this one was hilarious to me because he KNOWS he is still using Calvert-he’s just doing more fun stuff too so he completely forgets!
  • To me last night as I told him that his boxes were all ready for the morning and he could begin before I got up if he wanted, his reply…”YES” imagine a total dramatic, excited answer!

FUN things Pac has done during the first week that I wouldn’t have made time for without the boxes…

Final thoughts (for now)…

Yes you could implement this method without buying the book, BUT I do recommend buying the book if you plan on using this. I read through it quickly and her story and philosophy behind the method are very inspiring. Being a former teacher, I could really relate to tons of what she was writing. I could instantly see how this method could solve many of Pac Man’s issues. Another reason I recommend buying the book, is because it supports another homeschooling mom! Sure I will tell you a lot about it here and I will point you in the direction of other blogs that also share info, but you won’t have a full understanding unless you get it yourself. There are definitely some features to the method that need to be explained by the book.

If you order the E Book or the book, you will gain access to her downloads, which include the schedule cards and such. You will need clear boxes (I got mine at Target for $1 each), velcro, a shelf to put them on, and a laminator to make it all really work. Yes, I did make our own schedule cards and numbers, etc. You all know by now that I am a creating-mess :), so of course I had to control HOW everything looked for us! Plus Pac Man’s favorite color is green so I knew he would be excited if all of his numbers were green!

If you order the book yourself, read it, and then have ?s for me, I will be happy to share. I don’t really feel comfortable answering very specific ?s if you don’t purchase the book, only because this is NOT my original idea-I hope you can understand. I just want to respect the wonderful author! Although if you have general ?s that would help you decide if this method might work for you, I will be happy to share my thoughts! I will also be happy to share anything I have made myself for our boxes, if anyone gets going and wants to use my labels and such (I bet you don’t want the Work with Mom label with my photo though 😉 ).

Finally-another wonderful thing that has come out of this first week-I can’t remember the last time our Wii or XBox was on! Pac is not a video game addict, but he does play a lot and loves it. I think he just turns to it sometimes because it is easy. This past week, he has naturally turned to more playing and creative activities. He has played tons with his K’Nex, done lots of free-art projects, and just kept himself busy playing instead of in front of a screen. I don’t know if this result is because of the workboxes, but I think it might be. I am hoping it lasts!

Here is another wonderful mom-blogger who shares her thoughts about Workboxes, my online buddy-Ami! Look on her right sidebar and you will see her “Wonderful Workboxes” links!

edited to add (11/2009): Visit our webapge all about Workboxes here!

Tot School Gathering Place Week 208

Welcome to Tot School™ Gathering Place! Gather together here, gather ideas from other blogs, share your own ideas on your own blog. Browse around at the other posts linked up, leave a few comments if you have time, and be sure to check back to see if your blog was featured!

Each week we will feature photo{s} and ideas from blogs who link up. Remember, provide a link back to Tot School Gathering Place within your post that you link up, so you can be considered for the feature!

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Snow! We are currently enjoying our first snowfall of the season (and, hopefully, the last!). The kids are LOVING it! I hear that a lot of the country is having snow this weekend. I hope wherever you are you are safe and warm and enjoying your family! Don’t forget to link up your Tot Schooling adventures to the Gathering Place! We love to see what you are up to!

It’s often said, “New Year, New You!” and we all try to eat healthier and exercise more! How about your Tots? Some of them can be downright picky when it comes to eating! It’s a struggle among many of us parents! Check out the healthy smoothie that GrandMama Deb from Living Montessori Now created for her GrandTot Zoey. It may be just the trick to turn that Tot onto healthy eating.01082017 Living Montessori Now

Are you looking for ideas to teach your Tot about the letter N? Head on over to The Magnolia Barn and see what Mama Tara put together for Tot Summer to see if her ideas may work with your Tot!

01082017 The Magnolia Barn

Are you looking for a curriculum that can help you with Tot Schooling? There are many out there to fit different needs. Take a look at the review of Mother Goose Time by Mama Cristi from The Keeper of the Memories and see if it is a fit for your family.

01082017 The Keeper of the Memories


Do you have your FREE

Where to Begin with Tot School eBook?


See the Tot School webpage here! Tot-School-early-learning-through-pl[1]

Follow {1plus1plus1} Carisa’s board Tot School Ideas on Pinterest.


Are you NEW or have never been featured? Read this! Basics: write a specific post about what you did with your tot, link up the permalink from your post, link back to Tot School within that post, put your tot’s age in months in ( ) like this: (43 months).